Single-family home construction got off to its slowest start in decades in Sonoma County this year.
Cities and the county issued only 34 permits for new single-family homes for the first three months of the year, according to data compiled by the Burbank-based Construction Industry Research Board.
That compares with 74 permits for the first quarter of 2009. Last year ended with county builders taking out just 356 permits for single-family homes, the lowest number in more than four decades.
Builders and industry officials have said the construction downturn is tied to the large number of foreclosure properties and similarly distressed homes that can be resold for less than the cost of building new houses.
Construction did pick up in the first quarter for new multi-family projects. County builders took out permits for 150 condominium or apartment units. In the past five years, that number was exceeded only in 2007, when 241 permits were issued in the first quarter.
The number of all building permits for new residential construction for the quarter totaled 184, up from 138 for the first quarter of 2009. The county average was 384 permits for the same period between 2004 and 2007.
In Mendocino County, builders pulled 21 permits for new single-family homes in the first quarter, while nine permits were issued in Lake County. In both counties, the numbers were unchanged from last year, and no building permits were issued in either county for new multi-family units.
California cities and counties issued 10,292 permits for all types of new homes in the first quarter, up from 8,009 a year ago.
The state’s housing industry hit a record low last year when it constructed only 36,000 homes.
The research board is forecasting the construction of 52,000 new homes in California this year. That would be less than a third of the average number of homes built between 2000 and 2007.
— Robert Digitale